NATURAL SELECTION: THE ONLY THING DARWIN GOT RIGHT
NATURAL SELECTION (HORIZONTAL EVOLUTION)
Our chemistry lecturer announced his dismay that the 1961 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given to Melvin Calvin for discovering the C3 cycle in plants, the distinctive biochemical pathway by which carbon dioxide from air is converted to sugars in broad-leaved plants. In his opinion, it should have been awarded to Andrew Benson and James Bassham who, at the very least, should have shared the prize. Yet, the C3-cycle for photosynthesis has always been associated with Calvin and not Benson nor Bassham. Similarly, the fame for the ‘Origin of Species’ by natural selection should be shared with Russel Wallace yet the theory is always associated with Charles Darwin.
Both Wallace and Darwin were meticulous naturalists documenting everything they observed on their travels and collecting numerous specimens for later study. While Darwin travelled around the Americas and the Galapagos Wallace spent his time in the Amazon basin and on the numerous islands of the Malay Archipelago. Both men made astounding discoveries and independently came to the same conclusion that the influences of nature could have the same effect on diversity (speciation to evolutionists) as animal and plant breeders had produced in developing new breeds and cultivars. In fact, there is no difference between natural selection and artificial selection except, that in the former, the selection pressure is applied by the environment whereas, in the latter case, the selection pressure is applied by the breeder.
From a genetic point of view there is absolutely no difference. In artificial breeding or artificial selection (equivalent to horizontal evolution where no new genes are created), or intensive domestication where the breeder selects which variant in the litter should survive and be kept for breeding future populations. In the case of natural selection, taking Darwin’s finches on the 19 islands of the Galapagos as an example, it was the type of food availability on different islands that determined which finches were to dominate the population according to beak size and strength. The finches originally emigrated from South America. If the island was populated with hard seeded plants then obviously fledglings with weaker beaks would not be able to compete successfully and survive.
Thus, both natural selection and artificial selection are cases of 'Horizontal Evolution' where no new information is created. Instead, it usually involves a loss of genetic information. The difference between 'Horizontal' and 'Vertical' was discussed in the previous article.
We are all familiar with other examples, such as the strongest stag or the most powerful lion that will pass its genes on to the next generation. Prize bulls are kept because they have the most desired and most fertile semen. The same works for race horses where vast sums are paid for mares to be sired by cup winners. In actual fact, both Darwin and Wallace knew about all of this because both were British and the British were mad keen on pigeon and dog breeding at the time. It only required a little spark and plenty of field observations to confirm that nature provided the selection pressure as to which progeny were to survive into future generations. Natural selection is what has been referred to as the 'survival of the fittest'. Because many individuals are eliminated the gene pool of the population becomes poorer. Genes suited for different environments are now missing which could have been advantageous if conditions were to change. Natural selection leads to an impoverishment of available genes. Natural Selection destroys genetic information.
Charles Darwin was well aware what breeders could achieve over very short times with pigeons, chickens and dogs. It was just a matter of genetic manipulation by selecting progeny for further breeding according to taste - preference for appeal, meat, hunting, cock fighting, racing or egg-laying; these were the selection pressures applied by man. Nature can do the same especially in years of drought and famine. In the latter case it is called Natural Selection. Natural Selection follows exactly the same genetic laws as observed in a breeder’s pen. It has nothing to do with the evolution of a new kind unless you choose to give the progeny a new species name as some scientists do for no scientific reason at all.
WHAT DARWIN GOT WRONG
Basing his belief on the diversity he observed amongst finches and other species Darwin assumed that, as more effort was devoted to natural history, geologists would discover fossils that would demonstrate how one kind of animal or plants would slowly morph into another. He was not aware of any skeletal remains which would demonstrate this, but he had faith that one day the evidence would be found.
Time has proven that the so-called transitional fossils required for the gradual descent of species by Darwinian evolution will not be forthcoming. More than fifty years ago botanists asked themselves why there is a sudden appearance of flowering plants in the geologic column. Their supposed precursors in deeper sedimentary layers were missing. Much more recently fossilized butterflies with their typical long proboscis for sucking up nectar from deep ‘cavities’, that can roll back into their mouths during flight, were found earlier in the fossil record than flowering plants:
‘Exquisite wing fossils reveal the world's first butterflies appeared 200 million years ago, long BEFORE there were flowers on Earth to pollinate
Moths and butterflies were thought to have evolved alongside flowers
However, the world's first flowers sprouted around 140 million years ago
This suggests moths and butterflies emerged before flowers appeared
Scientists say they must have developed coiled mouthparts for a purpose other than feeding on nectar’
This is just another example of evolutionists having to scramble for alternate answers in the face of reality. Just like they were red faced when the coelacanth, the supposedly extinct lobed-walking fish thought to be a vital transitional link between marine and terrestrial species, was found alive and well in deep waters off the coast of South Africa and Sulawesi in Indonesia. It was thought to have become extinct along with the dinosaurs.
There is also no explanation why when they first appear in the fossil record,they were hardly different from their modern counterparts except in one thing - they used to be much bigger then. Generally, this is also the case with echo-locating bats, dragon flies, spiders, ants and snails. They seem to have devolved instead of evolved. There is no clue from what they might have evolved.
The Australian platypus also has evolutionists stumped. They have bird-like and animal-like features. They have the bill of a duck, they lay eggs, have webbed feet, fur like a mammal, a pouch like a marsupial, a tail like a beaver, a poisonous barb and possess sensitive hairs that can detect vibrations and electrical signals under water to find prey in the sediments.
Therefore, in terms of phylogenetic trees, the ancestry of life is interpreted differently by evolutionists and creationists. Evolution theory traces everything back to the first living ‘blobs’ or single cells from which everything eventually developed over eons of time (Vertical Evolution). Creationists think of phylogenetic trees more like trees in an orchard with the stump of each tree representing the basic kinds that God created right from the start. The same can be said of dogs, that have since diversified through natural or artificial selection. The Bible does not tell us whether there were only two dogs on the ark or two dogs and two wolves, etc. The important principle is that the trunk of each tree already contains all the genetic material for the resulting diversification that occurred (Horizontal evolution or change). The trunk for dogs would not have included genes for wings, fins for swimming or echo-location or metamorphosis, as happens in caterpillars, etc. The two types of trees are illustrated below. Firstly, a typical evolutionary tree constructed on the basis of gene similarities similar to those earlier based on morphological (form) similarities. The second is the orchard model where there are many trees, one for each basic kind, as the Scripture implies:
‘And ‘’God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creepers, and its beasts of the earth after its kind; and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, cattle after their kind, and all creepers upon the earth after their kind. And God saw that it was good'. (Genesis 1:24-25). ‘All flesh is not the same flesh, but one kind of flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another of fish, and another of birds’. (1 Corinthians 15:39).
We can agree with the apostle Paul that the flesh of one kind is different from that of other kinds. Beef, lamb, chicken, pork, emu, kangaroo, horse, crocodile, lobster and fish readily spring to mind. Other exotic edible ones could include bees, ants, locusts, witchetty- grubs and snake. The difference in the flesh of fruits, nuts, cereals and vegetables is also well known.
The orchard model for creation and subsequent diversity
SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY TEXT BOOKS
In pre-industrial England white and dark coloured moths could be found in more or less equal numbers. But when soot began to cover all surfaces in towns and villages, during the industrial revolution, birds found that the pale coloured moths were easy picking against the dark background. As a result, the dark moths began to heavily outnumber the pale moths so that mating was now more frequent between dark couples. When the towns were cleaned up light-coloured moths had a better chance of camouflage over dark moths hence the population average began to return to a more equal balance, between the dark and light-coloured moths, according to known genetic laws that governed colour in moths.
Text-books, in my day, fooled students by citing the above case of the Peppered Moth as proof for Darwinian evolution - ie the development of new kinds of plants and animals by slow and gradual descent. The idea that took hold of minds, and is still with us today, is that eventually a wingless creature could develop wings given sufficient time forgetting that totally new sets of genes would be required for the job; especially a totally new set of genes with predetermined codes already entered for wings on the DNA of the egg and sperm cells.
Thus, though based on factual cases of natural selection which strictly follow known genetic laws, the authors would then plead to one's imagination that, given enough time of say a couple of million years, wingless creatures could develop wings to give them a better chance to escape from ground predators.
In later editions, in order to find a purely scientific solution to the enigma of the origin of complex organisms that would exclude any need for God, the story of evolution was presented as fact. The story of evolution has been perpetuated as fact in the minds of the public for decades. The dotted lines proposed for the evolution of one kind of animal or plant to another kind disappeared from biology textbooks. The dotted lines became solid arrows deceiving young minds that evolution was indeed a fact. Terminologies were also changed in lecture halls and class-rooms. It was no longer the Theory of Evolution, but Evolution. The theory became fact in the minds of lecturers and students alike. This thinking next infected the media.
Once I became aware of this another common phenomenon in the halls of learning stood out like a sore thumb. At both conferences and at in-house seminars speakers threw in the word 'evolution' frequently into their presentations even when the subject matter had nothing to do with 'evolution'. Evolution became an acceptable jargon as though it could explain anything at all. Have you ever noticed on TV how often the phrase ‘millions of years’ or ‘evolution’ appear in travelogues. They are just casually thrown in to embellish the monologue of the presenter. It sounds good because people have become accustomed to hearing it and even voice it in their daily conversations.
We can summarize Natural Selection without contravening any scientific laws by saying that it is a simple matter of the environment determining which variants in a population are best suited for a particular environment and allowing its weaker competitors to die out, together with whatever unique genes they might have had. Thus the population becomes genetically impoverished since the lost gene combinations may have had superior qualities in a different environment. The simplest examples of how a shift in the average composition of a population can occur is the case of the Peppered Moth, in England, and the dominance of strong-beaked finches on islands where the vegetation is primarily hard-seeded.
Following the massive eruption of Mt Krakatoa in 1883, in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia, new islands consisting of hot volcanic ash, completely devoid of life of any kind, were formed. Naturalists have been observing the gradual re-vegetation of those islands by species of insects and small animals that could live off the newly established vegetation. This is how the various volcanic islands of the Galapagos acquired their unique flora and fauna that Darwin observed. It depended on what the winds and currents brought upon the islands and whatever might have survived on driftwood arriving on the new beaches.
On the Galapagos Islands, it was a matter of life for those plants and animals which had the best composition of genes suitable for an island, and death to those that could not establish themselves into viable populations. Thus the gene pool of the finches, on each island, has become impoverished, because unsuitable combinations of genes in progeny have gradually been eliminated from the population. The sum total of all the genes in finches represented on the Galapagos Islands, probably equates to the genetic composition of the original finches that migrated there from South America.
The phenomenon which Charles Darwin so meticulously observed and based his theory of evolution on could never account in any way for the postulated appearance of a host of new genes that would be required to manufacture a pair of wings with perfectly co-ordinated motion for speed and change of direction.
The earliest winged creatures in the fossil record, such as dragon flies with their amazing aerodynamic capabilities (which gave rise to the design of helicopters), appear in their full complexity in the fossil record. There is no indication of earlier in-between transitional forms of these creatures in the fossil record, the essential scientific evidence which Darwin’s theory of evolution demands for it to stand. Darwin said so himself. Not only that, but the ancient dragon flies were much bigger with wing-spans of two feet or more. Devolution, rather than Evolution, would be the operative word!
Once again, I do not intend to spend further time on this matter because it has been adequately answered in detail in numerous articles published by organizations such as https://www.creation.com and https://www.icr.org.
ARTIFICIAL SELECTION AND BREEDING
In a women's magazine I saw a massively large dog the size of a pony located in Western Australia. The owner was reported to have said that the only problem with the dog was the pain she felt when he stood on her feet. I vaguely remember the dog's height reaching up to her shoulders. Have a look at some of the biggest dogs on https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=world%27s+biggest+dog&qpvt=world%27s+biggest+dog&FORM=IGRE . Their size is truly mind-blowing.
While difficult, if not impossible, to mate a toy dog with a St. Bernard it might be readily possible by artificial insemination because they are both dogs. However, I predict that this may not be possible in all cases since it might be difficult to revert extreme cases of variants in animals or plants, that have been selected by artificial selection (domestication), because of the loss of genes. For example: in the ‘cabbage’ genus (Brassica), where wild mustard was selected over thousands of years to produce gigantic flowers (cauliflower), the gene for flower size regulation was lost or damaged hence the large cluster of flowers. Back breeding with wild mustard would once again reduce the size of the flower clusters, but what purpose would that serve from an economic stand-point?
The Brassicas provide an excellent example of domestication. Variants in spindly-looking wild plants were selectively inbred for outsized flowers, stems or leaves giving us a whole selection of vegetables that appear so different from each other. Cabbage, for example, was domesticated by selecting plants with unusually large leaves and in-breeding them. The photo on the left is a wild mustard derivative that has edible leaves of moderate size, while cabbage has very large edible leaves. In summary, in cabbages (Brassica), artificial selection by growers was for flower clusters (cauliflower), flowers and stems (broccoli), lateral buds (Brussels sprouts), terminal bud (cabbage), and leaves (kale) or stem (kohlrabi). Kohlrabi (cabbage turnip) and Brussels sprouts were unknown anywhere 500 years ago. In each case, plants had lost the capacity for size regulation of a particular organ which proved advantageous for food production. This is the reverse of evolution - the loss of functional genes, not gain. Call it Devolution if you want to give it a name!
All the genes necessary for the different Brassica variants were already within the original wild plant just as is the case for all the various pigeon and dove varieties derived from the wild rock pigeon over thousands of years. If all the varieties of pigeons were crossed they would revert back to the wild rock pigeon as also mentioned in some textbooks.
The beautiful yellow fields of canola (rapeseed) are a good example of plants that were selected because their seeds are rich in oil and they proliferate readily under widely differing conditions. They grow like weeds. Canola was first bred in Canada in 1970’s. Their wild relatives are weeds or have unwanted oils.
‘Canola oil, or canola for short, is a vegetable oil derived from rapeseed that is low in erucic acid, as opposed to colza oil. There are both edible and industrial forms produced from the seed of any of several cultivars of the Brassicaceae family of plants, namely cultivars of Brassica napus L., Brassica rapa subsp. oleifera, syn. B. campestris L. or Brassica juncea’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canola
ORIGIN OF SPECIES AND BREEDING BARRIERS
Why then did Darwin and others believe that they had discovered a mechanism for the origin of species or even life itself by natural descent? (See previous article on Creationists & Dinosaurs for the general scheme of evolution theory). The thinking was that if a wingless creature inhabited a micro-ecosystem long enough, where flight would have a considerable advantage, then one or two randomly or mutated forms of its progenitors might eventually evolve wings (having been chosen to survive by the environment). Where the new genes for wings would come from, or the genes for feathers, no scientist has a clue except in a wild hope they carry in their hearts and minds. So what spurs them on in the absence of evidence?
Everyone has seen litters of domestic animals where individuals in the litter seem sometimes to be so different from the rest of the litter. That is precisely how the best hunting or the fastest racing dogs were bred by selecting extreme variants that had the most desirable properties in the litter. The hope in the mind of every evolutionist is that if selection is done for long enough then something entirely new might arise. This is purely wishful thinking and has never been observed.
Think about the variation that is possible in domesticated animals and plants. After many generations of breeding it is difficult to believe that a Great Dane and a toy dog might have been derived from the same parents many generations ago. Yet scientists will freely admit that they are of the same species, Canis familiaris. However, having been kept apart for so long, the Great Dane and the toy dog will now be separated by a physical breeding barrier due to size unless one is artificially inseminated by the other. It’s as if 8.9 foot Robert Wadlow were to marry the world’s shortest mature woman, Nagpur Jyoti who is only 2 foot tall, weighing 5 kg. You can imagine the social and anatomical problem that might exist. Behavioural and colour-caused breeding boundaries can also eventually provide natural breeding barriers, such as the example of cichlid fish, where different varieties of cichlids can share the same lake in Africa without interbreeding.
John Leslie, from New Mexico USA, submitted the montage below of variations possible within the misnamed American toad. They are not toads but lizards. John, a biologist and medical practitioner, believes that these are fine examples of variations of the lizard originally created, but with adaptation and corruption of the genome over time. John has a large website https://www.defendingthechristianfaith.org/ with many articles, especially also on Christian ethics, geology and biblical archaeology.
Using X-irradiation to generate random mutations in the code of DNA and gene shuffling techniques scientists have tried to cross species barriers, or more appropriately, ‘kinds’ barriers, but to no avail. There is always a limit as to what can be achieved by interbreeding. This has been elegantly demonstrated in fruit flies where one can experimentally produce numerous mutants and generations in just six months; the more extreme a variant becomes the greater the probability that they are infertile or can no longer mate.
Another example is the mule. We are all familiar with mules. The mule is the offspring between a male donkey and a female horse, the reverse results in a hinny. Charles Darwin was impressed with mules because they are much hardier than either the horse or donkey. This horse-donkey hybrid possesses more reason, memory, obstinacy, social affection, powers of muscular endurance and length of life. It is called hybrid vigour. One can ride the narrow path down the Grand Canyon on mule back, if you’re game enough. Some parts of the path have very steep drops. Having my semi-invalid wife on the trip with me, who constantly needs my attention, I decided not to take the risk though the mules are apparently quite safe.
Personally speaking, I wasn't all that convinced that the ride was safe when I saw mule droppings on the extreme side of the path. I wondered how the mule stood to do that and how the rider would have felt. I certainly haven't heard of anyone falling down. In the photo with the sign one can see the zig-zag path in the distance leading down into the Grand Canyon.
That’s all very well for the mule. He is hardy and reliable, but how about its future progeny? There are none. Mules are infertile because of chromosome mismatch with horses. Thus, once again, there are limits to what can be achieved by breeding, which would also apply to natural selection. Ligers and tigons, the offspring of lions and tigers, have a similar story to that of the mule and hinny because they are also infertile
In other words, neither artificial nor natural selection can provide anything radically new because of chromosomal breeding barriers. There is, therefore, no other explanation to the origin of life and the distinctly different kinds of animals and plants apart from The Creation, as described in the Bible.
BREEDING BARRIERS IN FLOWERING PLANTS
Flowering plants readily illustrate how breeding barriers work. They reproduce sexually like we do, hence the romantic love songs about the birds and the bees that cross-pollinate flowers.
Breeding barriers in plants prevent the creation of a world populated with grotesque, weak or ‘undesirable’ hybrids, or hybrids that are infertile. The highly regulated reproductive system in flowering plants has similarities with our own. There are male and female organs. For fertilization to create a new embryo male and female cells must first meet. The female ovules are fixed to the ovary wall whereas the male sperm cells, inside the pollen grains, must be carried to them by a special germination tube that grows down the style into the ovary. (See diagram below).
In flowers, the anthers contain the many pollen grains each of which has two male sperm cells. When a pollen grain lands on the papillae, on the moist surface of the stigma, it germinates like a tiny seed and produces a very thin pollen tube that will try to penetrate the stigma and grow all the way down to the ovary carrying, in its tip, the male sperm cells.
The pistil, shown in orange (please refer to diagram), typically consists of a swollen base, the ovary, which contains the ovules that are the female egg cells. Once fertilized with the male sperm cells the fertilized egg cell undergoes cell division to become a seed. The placement of seeds, where the ovules originally were against the ovary walls, is readily apparent when a tomato or capsicum fruit is cut open revealing the interior of the ovary.
The stalk or style is the conductive tissue in the flower for the pollen tubes carrying the male sperm down to the egg cells (ovules). The location of the conductive tissue is shown in the sketch by the thin yellow line representing a pollen tube growing down to the ovary where it will have to do a U-turn to get into the ovary.
Breeding barriers are established in flowers in the following way with the whole process being regulated like the underground vaults of Fort Knox that houses the US gold reserves. Pollen tubes are allowed to grow along the style provided they have the correct molecular keys on their surface to open each ‘gate’ on the way down. At least ten such gates have been identified – they are mutual molecular recognition systems that will reject undesirable pollen tubes as determined genetically on their DNA.
The earliest failure or abortion can occur right at the point of contact between the germinated pollen tube and the papilla, on the stigma surface, as shown in my scanning electron micrograph. I used a weedy Brassica from our footpath to illustrate an example of incompatibility and compatibility in two neighbouring pollen grains that landed on adjoining papillae on the stigma. The photo shows the inability of a self-pollen (a pollen grain from the same plant landing on its own stigma) to germinate on the stigma surface. In this case, the germinated pollen tube is rejected at the surface of the stigma and is unable to penetrate the papilla. The area is marked by heavy callose deposition (yellow stain) at the tip of the pollen tube rendering the pollen tube incapable of penetrating the cell wall of the papilla. In contrast, when the stigma is pollinated with a compatible pollen grain, the pollen tube successfully penetrates the papilla, as indicated, eventually finding its way through the style down to the ovules.
The interaction and the responses, I illustrated on the surface of a stigma, is only the first of several molecular ‘security gates’ that have to be passed by the pollen tube. Even if all the molecular recognition gates were passed successfully, all the way down to the ovary, the pollen tube may be prevented from releasing the sperm cells if the recognition signals fail outside or inside the egg cell itself. The ultimate final breeding barrier may be at the point of cell division following attempted fertilization if there is a mismatch of chromosomes between the different plant species or cultivars.
Thus, in effect, God has predetermined what may or may not cross-breed. All this is pre-determined and pre-programmed in the DNA maintaining the interesting and separate species diversities we have. Domestic wheat is a self-pollinator. The wheat flower pollinates itself before the flower opens therefore keeping the seeds formed genetically uniform which is necessary for mass production and harvesting.
These fine-tuned and precise molecular signals that control what may and may not interbreed are predetermined at the level of the code in their DNA. The instructions were laid down in the very beginning and there is no other way the codes could have been written. Keys and locks are designed by locksmiths and molecular signals, that have the appearance of purpose and function have all the hallmarks of deliberate design. The molecular signals are often complex sugars protruding from the surface of cells. Breeding barriers allow us to enjoy the beauty and unique differences in the plant kingdom and also in agricultural production.
If everything was allowed to interbreed we would have a monotonous world. Consider the variety of distinct fruits and flavours we have thanks to the breeding barriers that keep them apart from one another.
The best analogy for the beauty we find in nature, that I can think of, is a painter’s palate. If, through sloppy practice, the paints have been allowed to merge into one another, every canvas would end up with strokes in a muddy brown. This would also happen in plants and animals if cross breeding were allowed to proceed unfettered. The stunning beauty of unique species evident in nature would disappear.
There is absolutely no experimental data or known mechanisms indicating how entirely new organs with a different design may randomly form, as postulated dogmatically by evolution theory. Everything points to the handiwork of an intelligent designer - God. There is no evidence that God used evolution to create man from simple organisms such as bacteria or amoeba. When God created Adam and Eve they were created with full faculties and the capacity for speech.